The book of Galatians is one of the shorter epistles of Paul. It takes up perhaps six to eight pages of the Bible and can be read in twenty minutes. As a piece of literature it is not remarkable for its artistry or beauty. Its historical allusions are rather obscure and its arguments regarding circumcision do not immediately appear to be relevant to modern issues.

In spite of this, I consider the Epistle to the Galatians to be one of the most important books of the Bible. It is the charter of freedom from externalism in worship and from frustration in the personal spiritual life. It is the book that sets the believer free.

It is entirely possible that the book of Romans was Paul's own expansion on the theme originally set forth in Galatians. The two epistles have certain similarities in theme and content.



Passionate and emotional

Calm reflection

Christianity on the battlefield

Christianity in the study

One of the earlier epistles

One of the later epistles

Justification through faith defended from attacks

Justification through faith set forth systematically

Our Declaration of Independence

Our Constitution

Romans is written at a later date when the fire of the controversy had abated and when the church at large needed counsel in its thinking more than reproof for its errors.



1. John W. Lawrence: The Magna Charta of Christian Liberty.

2. Donald Gray Barnhouse: Galatians is one of the most important documents in human history.

3. Martin Luther: The Epistle to the Galatians is my Epistle. I have betrothed myself to it. It is my Katie - it is my wife.

Speaking of Luther's use of the book of Galatians, Godet says: This was the pebble from the brook which, like another David, he went forth to meet the papal giant and smite him in the forehead. In this epistle Luther found the secret of his own deliverance. Taking this as his weapon, he plunged into the fearful conflict with the Papistry and religious materialism of his time.



The first two chapters of Galatians contains a number of historical notes from the life of Paul. These aid us in attempting to establish a date for the book. Assuming that the epistle is written to those churches established in the Southern Galatian region, we are left with two possible dates.

(1) It was written before the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15.

(2) It was written after the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15.

The difference between these two positions will be determined largely by whether or not Paul's visit to Jerusalem in Galatians 2:1-10 took place during the Jerusalem Council. We shall deal more with this question when we come to Galatians 2. In either case, this would have been one of the earlier epistles to have been written, with a date between 48-52 A.D.



Certain Jewish teachers had come from Jerusalem teaching that one had to become a Jew in order to be saved (Acts 15:1). They were stressing circumcision and the keeping of the Law. They presented themselves as having authority from the church at Jerusalem and they seem to have questioned the legitimacy of Paul's apostleship.

Paul has several purposes in writing:

  1. To establish his apostleship as being independent of Jerusalem and the other apostles. He does this, not as an end in itself, but to show that his gospel came from the Lord, not from some church council.
  2. To demonstrate that a man is justified through faith alone. If salvation can come in any other way, then Christ died in vain.
  3. To establish the method of Christian living that is not according to the keeping of the Law, but through the Spirit's work in our lives as we live in faith and in love.

These three purposes correspond to an outline of the book. Paul takes two chapters to deal with each section.

Chapters 1-2

Chapters 3-4

Chapters 5-6

Paul's Apostleship and his Gospel come from the Lord

Man is Justified through Faith Alone

We are to walk by Faith and Love







Testimonial and Apologetical

Doctrinal and Argumentative

Practical and Hortatory

Source of the Gospel

Defense of the Gospel

Application of the Gospel

The Gospel is from God, "not according to man" (1:11)

The Gospel is Superior to the Law in what it is able to Accomplish

The Gospel of the Spirit:

Live by the Spirit

Walk by the Spirit



This epistle is short and to the point. Its style is abrupt, passionate and full of strong emotion. Like a surgeon's knife, Paul wants to cut out a deadly cancer that he sees eating away at the church. Look at the emotional content in these statements:

We Christians are called to be people of passion. When we love the Lord, we are to do it with all of our heart, our mind, our soul and our body.

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